'Mind boggling' Nottinghamshire Police problems not found sooner

A review panel has said it is "mind boggling" problems at Nottinghamshire Police were not spotted sooner.

The force was put into special measures last week after inspectors raised serious concerns over how it runs investigations and handles victims.

Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said she was "shocked" and "disappointed" at the developments.

The meeting was told she expected quick improvements but some felt the report was being "taken too lightly".

Position defended

The report by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) means the force will now be subject to an "enhanced level of monitoring", known as the "engage" process.

Ms Henry, who is responsible for monitoring and scrutinising force performance, was criticised by councillors for not spotting the problems sooner, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service.She told a Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Panel meeting she hoped the force could get out in under a year, and said Chief Constable Kate Meynell was already making improvements.

She defended not spotting the issues earlier, saying inspectors had gone "under the bonnet" of police operations in a way she could not.

Software issue

Ms Henry told the Nottinghamshire County Council meeting on Monday: "I am confident that we won't stay in Engage for a long time - some improvements are already changes in place. I will be stepping up how I'm scrutinising the force.

"These issues were first brought to my attention on February 14, when we were debriefed after the inspection. They are operational factors I haven't been able to see as PCC."

During the meeting, she also revealed she was surprised by the special measures decision, as inspectors had not given any early indication.

Criticism by the inspectors of investigations and supporting victims was described by Mrs Henry as a "software issue" related to officers not using police systems properly.

Deteriorating performance

The panel urged more transparency, which Mrs Henry said would be provided in a closed-door briefing.

Inspectors found a backlog of 609 domestic abuse incidents still waiting for risk assessments, and some incidents had been closed without victims being told.

Panel member David Ellis said: "You say you will be 'stepping up scrutiny' - we've heard this before after the last HMI report in 2022.

"You've not been scrutinising - performance has deteriorated on your watch. How can (we) have confidence in what you're telling us?"

Despite assurances improvements would be made, councillor Paul Taylor said: "I'm getting concerned that the report is being taken too lightly - it's a really serious issue for people of Nottinghamshire."

Councillor John Wilmott said it was "mind-boggling" problems were not sorted at an earlier time.

Nottinghamshire Police must now produce an improvement plan and has been set a deadline of September to make a series of changes.

The inspectorate has confirmed the report is not linked to the June 2023 Nottingham attacks by Valdo Calocane.

The force's response to this incident is being reviewed separately.

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